July 24, 1989 12:00 PM

Showtime (Fri., July 21, 10 P.M. ET)


Except for The Golden Girls, there aren’t many sitcoms about people over 50. Now comes The Boys, about a group of guys, mostly middle-aged and up, who belong to a faded New York men’s club called the Excalibur.

Much of the action takes place around a poker table where the regulars have been sitting and arguing with each other over cards for at least 30 years. In fact, this week’s episode, the show’s second, involves a dispute about the long-standing seating arrangement. That doesn’t sound like much of a plot. But this is exactly the show’s focus, to illuminate the everyday, trivial events in the lives of these longtime pals. Although the show is borderline precious at times, one has to congratulate former Saturday Night Live writer Alan Zweibel for not viewing old people as stereotypes.

So far there hasn’t been one constipation or passing-gas joke, strains of humor that The Golden Girls seems to thrive on. The likable cast, which has been changed slightly from the pilot that ran last fall, includes a familiar corps of veterans of the comedy business: Norm Crosby, Jackie Gayle, Lionel (Hart to Hart) Stander and Norman (Three’s Company) Fell. Since the Excalibur does have one woman member (Janet Carroll), it seems low caliber not to have a black or another minority person among the habitués of the poker table.

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